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Ogdensburg zoning map overhaul continues

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OGDENSBURG — As he helps guide the city Planning and Development Board through the time-consuming, multiple-meeting process of reviewing and possibly changing the city’s zoning map, chairman Timothy J. Redmond recalls the last time it occurred - in the early 1990s - and reckons it is time for another review.

Because change is good.

“Nothing is cast in stone,” Mr. Redmond said.

The zoning map is a document that dictates what can and cannot be built in the city, unless a use variance is granted by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The city is divided into eight zones: single family residential, moderate density residential, mixed residential and business, business, industrial and institutional, mobile homes, planned development district and waterfront overlay district.

“It’s a separation of use, that’s all it is,” said Interim Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith.

The board is currently focused on the future of the planned development district. That category allows for a mix of residential, recreational, commercial and industrial uses on a minimum of two acres of undeveloped or 40,000 square feet of re-developed property. There is currently one planned development district in the city, a section of land between lower Linden and Champlain streets north of Route 37. It is occupied by St. Joesph’s Home residential health care facility, 950 Linden St.

At its Nov. 15 meeting, the board discussed how the planned development district - which may be renamed planned unit development district in adopting an updated description - can be made more flexible for development. To that end, the state Commission on Rural Resources has prepared a guide for local planners and zoning boards that includes a model local law.

According to the legislative commission’s local law, “flexibilty” in the regulation of land encourages communities to:

n Encourage innovation in land use variety and design.

n Enhance the efficiency of land use, natural resources, energy, utilities and community services.

n Encourage open space development, which for the city especially means its the vacant St. Lawrence River waterfront on the west side. That area was formerly occupied by the the industrial Diamond International and Standard Shade Roller plants.

The final board-recommended draft zoning map will be put before public hearings and consideration of approval by the city council in 2013. Mr. Redmond said it could be mid-year before that happens.

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